Injuries are a huge bummer. They are so inconvenient; they slow down all that work you’ve put towards your goals and fitness, and they can really hurt! Are you dealing with an injury that you’ve been putting off taking care of? Did you come to BurnCycle in order to rehabilitate an injury? Are you looking for more information on nutrition and how you can better fuel your body and take better advantage of the hard work you are putting in during your workouts?
I have some answers for you today! When most people think about healing from injuries they usually say something like: massage, ice, physical therapy, Advil, rest and relax, ignore it for as long as possible, maybe even chiropractic. Hardly ever do I hear someone say they use food, i.e. good nutrition, to heal their injuries.
How can we use food to heal injuries and improve recovery times?
I like to encourage healthy practices to prevent injuries from happening as well as improve faster recovery and healing times, if and when they do happen. Food feeds our cells and I think we commonly forget that. Different foods have different nutrient levels, making vegetables and fruits a better option than a donut, for example. That’s maybe a crude example, but when we choose everyday to eat something other than a fruit or vegetable, it adds up fast. Plus, the healthier we eat the more we store for later, decreasing our chances of getting sick and decreasing recovery time when injuries do happen.
What foods should we focus on for quicker recovery after intense workouts?
There are a few aspects behind “sports nutrition”, one being timing and another being types of food groups. Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates and protein around a workout (within one hour before or after) will increase protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown, leading to faster recovery. Also, especially for endurance athletes, proper carbohydrate intake around training sessions leads to improved carbohydrate storage for game day.
TIP: Make sure you are having a balanced meal within an hour after a workout or a balanced snack before.
Protein and BCAA’s – branched chain amino acids – are very popular in sports nutrition right now. Each consumed around the time of exercise has been shown in several research studies to improve muscle tissue damage and improve recovery time (Campbell B et al., 2007). Again, consuming these either in whole food or high quality supplements around the time you exercise and train is imperative to see the result. Also, BCAA’s are great for endurance and aerobic exercise – like BurnCycle!
You mentioned food also helps heal injuries, which ones should we focus on?
Fruits and vegetables are the best. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, only a few examples, all play a role in healing from injury. If you eat plenty, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day your body will build up stores, which will help prevent getting a cold and will help with healing. However, the more stressful your daily life, or the more training you do, requires even more intake of vegetables and fruits to replenish what you used. You made the commitment to love on your body and get the exercise you need, thank your body with a healthy, balanced snack or meal.
TIP: Try incorporating blueberries, which are strong anti-oxidants and green leafy vegetables like Kale that contain high amounts of calcium. Sweet potatoes are great sources of carbohydrates after a workout.
Protein is also a large part in healing from injuries. We actually need around 25 more grams of protein per meal during times of injury. Protein provides the building blocks we need to build new muscle and ligament tissue. Avoid starving yourself of this, especially when you are healing. There are plenty of plant sources that are high in protein like legumes (beans, lentils etc.) for my vegetarians and vegans!
Herbs and botanicals are popular. Do you love any in particular?
I absolutely love turmeric. It’s the yellow spice in curry and its health benefits are amazingly beneficial in research on health and wellness. It’s an anti-inflammatory, meaning it helps joint and muscle pain from acute and chronic inflammation. Lowering overall inflammation is critical for most individuals managing injuries and aches and pains. Since sugar is consumed everyday by all of us, inflammation is a common issue. It can cause anything from migraines to joint pain to skin rashes. I also like other herbs like boswelia serrata that are natural painkillers.
Is there anything else we can do to stay healthy?
Although it isn’t fun to talk about what we shouldn’t be eating, it’s worth mentioning that sugar causes inflammation in the body. Avoiding it at all costs when your goal is weight loss or healing from an injury might be the final push you need. There are always exceptions to the rule and there are times for celebration. Be kind to yourself and enjoy drinks and foods that you love. Try to be prepared and have water, smoothie and balanced meals ready for the next day to avoid the sugar addiction cravings.
Whether you have come to BurnCycle to help rehabilitate injuries or you are looking for effective ways to help with recovery after crushing it at during a BurnCycle session, incorporating good whole food as often as possible into your daily and weekly regimen is one of the best ways to love and thank yourself and your body!
Do you have more questions about how to eat and use nutrition to fit your active lifestyle? Follow Kirstin @drklauritzen and subscribe to her blog to see the expanded article from this Q&A and learn more about the benefits of good nutrition for active individuals!
Campbell B, Kreider R Ziegenfuss T, La Bounty P, Roberts M, Burke D, Landis J, Lopez H, Antonio J. International society of sports nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition. 2007. 4:8.
Fuhrman, J., & Ferreri, D. M. (2010). Fueling the vegetarian (vegan) athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(4), 233-241.